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INTERNET | Nigeria reboots plans ‘to secure cyberspace’

INTERNET | Nigeria reboots plans ‘to secure cyberspace’
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The Federal Government is working on public key infrastructure and other measures to secure the Nigerian Internet community, the nation’s IT agency says.

The National Information Development Agency (NITDA), which regulates the critical information technology (IT) sector says that it has kicked off internal plans to secure the Internet for the good of the local online community.

Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami, the new Director General at NITDA, who dropped this hint says the tech agency is working to change the public mindset that it has not really lived up to the expectations in its regulatory role in the past.

Pantami said this in Lagos at a press conference organised by the Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA), the body mandated by NITDA to manage Nigeria’s .ng ccTLD, to announce nominations for the 2017 .ng Awards.

The NITDA DG, who was represented by Dr. Collins Agu, the agency ’s Director of Infrastructure & Technical Support Services, says that the government tech body is now awake to its role with better policies.

For Agu, the appointment of a new DG who is vibrant, young and also holds a PHD in Computer Science means that NITDA is now working on all fronts, including cybersecurity, to improve on its regulatory role of the ICT sector bestowed on it by the Nigerian Government.

“In the past, NITDA has not really done very well in the area of its regulatory mandate. We thank God now we have a very vibrant and young DG that has a PHD also in Computer Science. He wants to improve on the regulatory role of NITDA and in doing so, we have sent out several letters and the response was quite unbelievable and that is in line with our mandate,” Agu says.

For Agu, the appointment of a new DG who is vibrant, young and also holds a PHD in Computer Science means that NITDA is now working on all fronts, including cybersecurity, to improve on its regulatory role of the ICT sector bestowed on it by the Nigerian Government.

Revd Sunday Folayan , President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association briefing the press on the 2017 .ng award
Reverend Sunday Folayan , President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), third from right, speaking briefing the press on the 2017 .ng award at the NIRA headquarters in Lagos. Four from right is Dr. Collins Agu of NITDA

According to him, “right now, NITDA is putting mechanisms to augment our regulatory functions. Besides that we understand the importance of Internet. We understand the importance of also regulating the Nigerian cyberspace. So we are putting in place public key infrastructure. I may not want to break into it but I will put it in a lay man’s word.”

According to the NITDA DG, mopping up the Nigerian cyberspace against the practices of cyber  criminals will give the country online trust which it currently lacks in abundance.

Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, the new Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, the new Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)

“There is what we call online trust. When you are carrying out bank transaction, there is a way your bank understands that you are the one. Now, if you look at Nigeria, with all these 419s around, how do we identify phishing sites? How do we clean up our online image which is very bad? That is what the PPRA will do to us by the virtue of migrating to https where we use the Nigerian certificate.”

He explains further that in Nigeria, “currently we all use foreign certificates. Imagine a situation where as we are told in international politics that you don’t have permanent enemies and permanent allies, a situation where maybe you are knocked off your certificate, that means the whole country will be brought down in respect of financial transactions.”

The DG further stated that the Agency has taken some bold steps to rid the Nigerian cyberspace of criminals by setting up a cybersecurity department for the first time in the history of NITDA.

“So we have had some discussions with respect of the roll out plan for the PPI and in line with that, we have taken the issues of cybersecurity very seriously that for the first time in NITDA, now we have the cybersecurity department created, and the essence of such department is actually to monitor some of the online activities, create trust when it comes to transaction in terms of e-commerce,” he says.

Continuing, Pantami says “the moment there is no trust you can’t have any reasonable transaction and especially now we are trying to rebase our economy from resources to knowledge-based economy.”

He also says that when it comes to job creation, “there are some of our interventions which are part of our mandate, we have intervention called KAV, knowledge access venues and CAV which is computer access venues. These are tools which we use to carry out dissemination of IT up to the grassroots.

“Right now we have re-engineered the whole centres towards job creation. So we have some of it called digital job creation centers, some of them called digital capacity development centre because we believe that when you create an enabling ecosystem where you can impact what we call marketable skills, that is skills that are in high demand, that will actually help us drive the knowledge economy,” the DG adds.

He also explained the role NITDA has played in encouraging innovation in Nigeria which is geared towards creating employment among the youths.

“Besides other things, we believe in innovation. We have also midwifed innovation hubs, one of them is in Lagos here, iDEA Hub and this year we are going further to deploy two more. One in the North and one in the South and the idea is to create an ecosystem where like minds will come together, recognize an idea with the ultimate goal of forming startups and also create jobs,” Pantami says.

He adds that NITDA is also nurturing some partnerships which will focus on improving standards as it looks beyond 2020 when emerging technologies like the IoT are expected to peak.

“Now issue of standards as well, we have had meetings with some stakeholders in respect to emerging technologies like the RFIE/IoT, how we can start raising standards, for example the IoT business will 19 trillion dollars by 2020 with over 50 billion devices connected and that probably the drive of IPV6. So the question now is do we wait till 2020 or should we start building the capacity now for our youths to be able to tap into that?

“So we are having meetings with respect to that. We have carried out several capacity building programmes especially with the NYSC. We have trained over 3000 Corpers. It is like embedded programme in open source hardware, also promoting open source technology that inevitably makes the cost of computing very, very affordable.”

The NITDA DG on behalf of the management and staff of the Agency commended NIRA and promised them more support from NITDA as they work hand in hand for the good of Nigeria’s IT industry.

 

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Donatus Anichukwueze Technology Journalist at Technology Times Media Phone No: 08074016066 e-mail: donatus.anichukwueze@technologytimes.ng

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